Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 33

  • "I AM a friend of your husband's," he said, bowing very low, as if anxious t_onceal his frightened face, "and also of Vassily Fedotitch. I hear Alexa_mitritch is asleep and not very well. Unfortunately, I have brought bad news.
  • I have already told Vassily Fedotitch something about it and am afrai_ecisive measures will have to be taken.
  • Paklin's voice broke continually, like that of a man who was tortured b_hirst. The items of news he had to communicate were certainly very unpleasan_nes. Some peasants had seized Markelov and brought him to the town. Th_tupid clerk had betrayed Golushkin, who was now under arrest, he in his tur_as betraying everything and everybody, wanted to go over to the Orthodo_hurch, had offered to present a portrait of the Bishop Filaret to the publi_chool, and had already given five thousand roubles to be distributed amon_rippled soldiers. There was not a shadow of a doubt that he had informe_gainst Nejdanov; the police might make a raid upon the factory any moment.
  • Vassily Fedotitch was also in danger. "As for myself," Paklin added, "I a_urprised that I'm still allowed to roam at large, although it's true tha_'ve never really interested myself in practical politics or taken part in an_chemes. I have taken advantage of this oversight on the part of the police t_ut you on your guard and find out what had best be done to avoid an_npleasantness."
  • Mariana listened to Paklin to the end. She did not seem alarmed; on the othe_and she was quite calm. But something must really be done! She fixed her eye_n Solomin.
  • He was also composed; only around his lips there was the faintest movement o_he muscles; but it was not his habitual smile.
  • Solomin understood the meaning of Mariana's glance; she waited for him to sa_hat had best be done.
  • "It's a very awkward business," he began; "I don't think it would do Nejdano_ny harm to go into hiding for a time. But, by the way, how did you get t_now that he was here, Mr. Paklin?"
  • Paklin gave a wave of the hand.
  • "A certain individual told me. He had seen him preaching about th_eighbourhood and had followed him, though with no evil intent. He is _ympathiser. Excuse me," he added, turning to Mariana, "is it true that ou_riend Nejdanov has been very … very careless?"
  • "It's no good blaming him now," Solomin began again. "What a pity we can'_alk things over with him now, but by tomorrow he will be all right again. Th_olice don't do things as quickly as you seem to imagine. You will have to g_way with him, Mariana Vikentievna."
  • "Certainly," she said resolutely, a lump rising in her throat.
  • "Yes," Solomin said, "we must think it over, consider ways and means."
  • "May I make a suggestion?" Paklin began. "It entered my head as I was comin_long here. I must tell you, by the way, that I dismissed the cabman from th_own a mile away from here."
  • "What is your suggestion?" Solomin asked.
  • "Let me have some horses at once and I'll gallop off to the Sipiagins."
  • "To the Sipiagins!" Mariana exclaimed. "Why?"
  • "You will see."
  • "But do you know them?"
  • "Not at all! But listen. Do think over my suggestion thoroughly. It seems t_e a brilliant one. Markelov is Sipiagin's brother- in-law, his wife'_rother, isn't that so? Would this gentleman really make no attempt to sav_im? And as for Nejdanov himself, granting that Mr. Sipiagin is most awfull_ngry with him, still he has become a relation of his by marrying you. And th_anger hanging over our friend—"
  • "I am not married," Mariana observed.
  • Paklin started.
  • "What? Haven't managed it all this time! Well, never mind," he added, "one ca_retend a little. All the same, you will get married directly. There seem_othing else to be done! Take into consideration the fact that up until no_ipiagin has not persecuted you, which shows him to be a man capable of _ertain amount of generosity. I see that you don't like the expression— well, a certain amount of pride. Why should we not take advantage of it? Conside_or yourself!"
  • Mariana raised her head and passed her hand through her air.
  • "You can take advantage of whatever you like for Markelov, Mr. Paklin… or fo_ourself, but Alexai and I do not desire the protection or patronage of Mr.
  • Sipiagin. We did not leave his house only to go knocking at his door a_eggars. The pride and generosity of Mr. Sipiagin and his wife have nothin_hatever to do with us!"
  • "Such sentiments are extremely praiseworthy," Paklin replied (" How utterl_rushed!" he thought to himself), "though, on the other hand, if you think o_t … However, I am ready to obey you. I will exert myself only on Markelov'_ccount, our good Markelov! I must say, however, that he is not his bloo_elation, but only related to him through his wife—while you—"
  • "Mr Paklin, I beg of you!"
  • "I'm sorry… Only I can't tell you how disappointing it is— Sipiagin is a ver_nfluential man."
  • "Have you no fears for yourself?" Solomin asked.
  • Paklin drew himself up.
  • "There are moments when one must not think of oneself!" he said proudly. An_e was thinking of himself all the while. Poor little man! he wanted to ru_way as fast as he could. On the strength of the service rendered him, Sipiagin might, if need be, speak a word in his favour. For he too—say what h_ould—was implicated, he had listened and had chattered a little himself.
  • "I don't think your suggestion is a bad one," Solomin observed at last,"
  • although there is not much hope of success. At any rate there is no harm i_rying."
  • "Of course not. Supposing they pitch me out by the scruff of the neck, wha_arm will it do?"
  • "That won't matter very much" ("Merci," Paklin thought to himself). "What i_he time? " Solomin asked. " Five o'clock. We mustn't dawdle. You shall hav_he horses directly. Pavel!"
  • But instead of Pavel, Nejdanov appeared in the doorway. He staggered an_teadied himself on the doorpost. He opened his mouth feebly, looked aroun_ith his glassy eyes, comprehending nothing. Paklin was the first to approac_im.
  • "Aliosha!" he exclaimed, "don't you know me?" Nejdanov stared at him, blinkin_lowly.
  • "Paklin? " he said at last.
  • "Yes, it is I. Aren't you well?"
  • "No … I'm not well. But why are you here?"
  • "Why?" … But at this moment Mariana stealthily touched Paklin on the elbow. H_urned around and saw that she was making signs to him. "Oh, yes! " h_uttered. "Yes… . You see, Aliosha," he added aloud, "I've come here upon _ery important matter and must go away at once. Solomin will tell you al_bout it—and Mariana—Mariana Vikentievna. They both fully approve of what I a_oing to do. The thing concerns us all. No, no," he put in hastily in respons_o a look and gesture from Mariana. "The thing concerns Markelov; our mutua_riend Markelov; it concerns him alone. But I must say goodbye now. Ever_inute is precious. Goodbye, Aliosha … We'll see each other again sometime.
  • Vassily Fedotitch, can you come with me to see about the horses?"
  • "Certainly. Mariana, I wanted to ask you to be firm, but that is no_ecessary. You're a brick!"
  • "Yes, yes," Paklin chimed in, "you are just like a Roman maiden in Cato'_ime! Cato of Utica! We must be off, Vassily Fedotitch, come along!"
  • "There's plenty of time," Solomin observed with a faint smile. Nejdanov stoo_n one side to allow them room to pass out, but there was the same vacan_xpression in his eyes. After they had gone he took a step or two forward an_at down on a chair facing Mariana.
  • "Alexai," she began, "everything has been found out. Markelov has been seize_y the very peasants he was trying to better, and is now under arrest in thi_own, and so is the merchant with whom you dined once. I dare say the polic_ill soon be here for us too. Paklin has gone to Sipiagin."
  • "Why?" Nejdanov asked in a scarcely audible whisper. But there was a keen loo_n his eyes—his face assumed it's habitual expression. The stupor had left hi_nstantly.
  • "To try and find out if he would be willing to intercede."
  • Nejdanov sat up straight.
  • "For us?
  • "No, for Markelov. He wanted to ask him to intercede for us too … but _ouldn't let him. Have I done well, Alexai?
  • "Have you done well?" Nejdanov asked and without rising from his chair, stretched out his arms to her. "Have you done well?" he repeated, drawing he_lose to him, and pressing his face against her waist, suddenly burst int_ears.
  • "What is the matter? What is the matter with you?" Mariana exclaimed. And a_n the day when he had fallen on his knees before her, trembling an_reathless in a torrent of passion, she laid both her hands on his tremblin_ead. But what she felt now was quite different from what she had felt then.
  • Then she had given herself up to him—had submitted to him and only waited t_ear what he would say next, but now she pitied him and only wondered what sh_ould do to calm him.
  • "What is the matter with you?" she repeated. "Why are you crying? Not becaus_ou came home in a somewhat… strange condition? It can't be! Or are you sorr_or Markelov—afraid for me, for yourself? Or is it for our lost hopes? You di_ot really expect that everything would go off smoothly!"
  • Nejdanov suddenly lifted his bead.
  • "It's not that, Mariana," he said, mastering his sobs by an effort, "I am no_fraid for either of us … but … I am sorry.
  • "For whom?"
  • "For you, Mariana! I am sorry that you should have united your fate with a ma_ho is not worthy of you."
  • "Why not?"
  • "If only because he can be crying at a moment as this!"
  • "It is not you but your nerves that are crying!"
  • "You can't separate me from my nerves! But listen, Mariana, look me in th_ace; can you tell me now that you do not regret—"
  • "What?"
  • "That you ran away with me."
  • "No!"
  • "And would you go with me further? Anywhere?"
  • "Yes!"
  • "Really? Mariana … really?
  • "Yes. I have given you my word, and so long as you remain the man I love—_hall not take it back."
  • Nejdanov remained sitting on the chair, Mariana standing before him. His arm_ere about her waist, her's were resting on his shoulders.
  • "Yes, no," Nejdanov thought … "when I last held her in my arms like this, he_ody was at least motionless, but now I can feel it—against her will, perhaps— shrink away from me gently!"
  • He loosened his arms and Mariana did in fact move away from him a little.
  • "If that's so," he said aloud, "if we must run away from here before th_olice find us … I think it wouldn't be a bad thing if we were to get married.
  • We may not find another such accommodating priest as Father Zosim!"
  • "I am quite ready," Mariana observed.
  • Nejdanov gave her a searching glance.
  • "A Roman maiden!" he exclaimed with a sarcastic half-smile. "What a feeling o_uty!"
  • Mariana shrugged her shoulders.
  • "We must tell Solomin."
  • "Yes … Solomin … " Nejdanov drawled out. "But he is also in danger. The polic_ould arrest him too. It seems to me that he also took part in things and kne_ven more than we did."
  • "I don't know about that," Mariana observed. "He never speaks of himself!
  • "Not as I do!" Nejdanov thought. "That was what she meant to imply. Solomin … Solomin!" he added after a pause. "Do you know, Mariana, I should not be a_ll sorry if you had linked your fate forever with a man like Solomin … o_ith Solomin himself."
  • Mariana gave Nejdanov a penetrating glance in her turn. "You had no right t_ay that," she observed at last.
  • "I had no right! In what sense am I to take that? Does it mean that you lov_e, or that I ought not to touch upon this question generally speaking?"
  • "You had no right," Mariana repeated.
  • Nejdanov lowered his head.
  • "Mariana!" he exclaimed in a slightly different tone of voice.
  • "Yes?
  • "If I were to ask you now … now … you know what … But no, I will not as_nything of you . . goodbye."
  • He got up and went out; Mariana did not detain him. Nejdanov sat down on th_ouch and covered his face with his hands. He was afraid of his own thought_nd tried to stop thinking. He felt that some sort of dark, underground han_ad clutched at the very root of his being and would not let him go. He kne_hat the dear, sweet creature he had left in the next room would not come ou_o him and he dared not go to her. What for? What would he say to her?
  • Firm, rapid footsteps made him open his eyes. Solomin passed through his room, knocked at Mariana's door, and went in.
  • "Honour where honour is due!" Nejdanov whispered bitterly.